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Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2007 Aug 10;59(8):748-58. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

Endocytic mechanisms for targeted drug delivery.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Center for Nanomedicine and Cellular Drug Delivery, 20 Penn Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Advances in the delivery of targeted drug systems have evolved to enable highly regulated site specific localization to subcellular organelles. Targeting therapeutics to individual intracellular compartments has resulted in benefits to therapies associated with these unique organelles. Endocytosis, a mechanism common to all cells in the body, internalizes macromolecules and retains them in transport vesicles which traffic along the endolysosomal scaffold. An array of vesicular internalization mechanisms exist, therefore understanding the key players specific to each pathway has allowed researchers to bioengineer macromolecular complexes for highly specialized delivery. Membrane specific receptors most frequently enter the cell through endocytosis following the binding of a high affinity ligand. High affinity ligands interact with membrane receptors, internalize in membrane bound vesicles, and traffic through cells in different manners to allow for accumulation in early endosomal fractions or lysosomally associated fractions. Although most drug delivery complexes aim to avoid lysosomal degradation, more recent studies have shown the clinical utility in directed protein delivery to this environment for the enzymatic release of therapeutics. Targeting nanomedicine complexes to the endolysosomal pathway has serious potential for improving drug delivery for the treatment of lysosomal storage diseases, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Although several issues remain for receptor specific targeting, current work is investigating a synthetic receptor approach for high affinity binding of targeted macromolecules.

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